Adaptive / Wheelchair Tennis
USTA Texas supports and promotes our adaptive and wheelchair tennis programs through education, trainings, grant funding and more. Our mission is to provide all Texas populations, including those with intellectual and/or physical disabilities, the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the game of tennis.
Additionally, we offer several opportunities for those interested in volunteering their time to help those with disabilities. Our volunteers are doing more than simply teaching these individuals how to play a game – they are creating opportunities to further integrate them successfully into their communities and paving a path to self-acknowledgement.
In 2006, USTA Adaptive Tennis was created in an effort to promote the benefits, develop the techniques, and grow the resources of tennis for anyone with a disability. Tennis has many benefits for both mind and body for everyone. Physically, playing tennis helps to improve balance, mobility, agility, strength, and fitness. Mentally, tennis works on one’s focus, concentration, and reactive and problem-solving behaviors. Emotionally, it can promote self-confidence, instill feelings of success, relieve stress, and provide social outlets, such as meeting new friends, enhancing relationships, or providing great family outings. All of these benefits are incredibly important for those with disabilities.
Adaptive tennis may apply to individuals who may have some form of physical or intellectual disability, including hearing impairment, blindness/visual impairment, dwarfism/short stature, birth defect(s), previous stroke(s), Downs Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other intellectual disabilities. Some of the adaptive events and affiliations USTA Texas is involved with include Special Olympics Texas Area Games and Chapter Games, Fundación Miradas de Esperanza, Wounded Warriors, Amputennis, and the CA Hagerman Memorial Tennis Clinic of Dallas. Throughout the state, there are several Community Tennis Associations, parks & recreation centers, and clubs that offer a variety of classes for those with disabilities.
In 1976, Brad Parks, a very talented skier with a promising future in the sport, was involved in a skiing accident that left him paralyzed from the hips down. Rather than fighting the physical limitations brought on by his disability, he began to embrace them. In 1980, Parks and others formed the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis, and the game became an internationally recognized sport. Wheelchair tennis grew into an event for the Paralympic Games, and Parks became a gold medalist in 1992. Today, wheelchair tennis is played in more than 100 countries, 150 professional tennis tournaments annually, and is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States.
USTA Texas offers several opportunities for individuals to participate in Wheelchair Tennis, including Run/Roll events, camps and tournaments. There are currently two Texas universities that offer wheelchair tennis in their Adaptive Athletics Department – UT Arlington and University of Houston – and there are certainly more to follow! The rules of Wheelchair tennis and able-bodied tennis are the same, except wheelchair players are allowed two bounces instead of one.
The USTA allows those interested in adaptive tennis opportunities to connect with programs that best suit their needs.